localmotorsDo you think you can design a drone?

Airbus Group and Local Motors have teamed up to issue a design challenge to the public: help create a drone that will delivery urgent medical and emergency supplies to remote, hard-to-reach areas. Win the challenge and the winners will receive $50,000 and a trip to the Farnborough Airshow in England.

In this episode of the Drone Radio Show, Alex Palmer and Matt Jackson of Local Motors talk about the Airbus Cargo Drone Challenge, how you can enter and compete for the $50,000 prize and the innovative co-creating process used to accelerate product design.  If you’re an engineer, designer or someone that loves the creative process, then you’ll going to like this story.

In This Episode

  • [01:45] Introduction to Alex Palmer and Matt Jackson of Local Motors.
  • [02:00] The Airbus Cargo Drone Challenge. Alex Palmer describes the Challenge – a co-creation project to speed the development of a cargo drone.
  • [02:47] Co-Creation as a Design Tool. Alex and Matt discuss the benefits and opportunities in using a co-creative design process to produce a design for a cargo drone. Co-creative processes are used routinely by Local Motors, but this is the first time it’s been applied to drones.
  • [04:39] Company Roles. Local Motors is handling the co-creative process, while Airbus Global provides the air cargo and UAV expertise.
  • [05:05] The Design Parameters. Alex and Matt go through the design parameters for the Airbus Global Cargo Challenge, including the use case for the drones. In short, competitors are asked to design a drone that will lift off vertically, fly horizontally and land vertically carrying medical supplies.
  • [07:15] Value Add. Cargo carrying drones aren’t new, but hope is that the co-creative process will produce a new and improved design with a speedier time to production that conventional design processes.
  • [07:56] The Co-Creative Process. When someone submits an design idea, other members of the community, as well as Airbus engineers, will comment and add suggestions. The owner of the concept can then make the modifications for additional community critique. The challenge is open to anyone with any background. It’s feasible that someone could initiatiate an idea with little engineering background, relying on the engineering capacity of the community to provide added expertise. At the time of this podcast, there were 77 submissions.
  • [10:20] Collaboration vs. Competition. Even though the Airbus Global Cargo Challenges is a competition with prize money, Local Motors has had a long track record of positive collaboration among participants. While the prize money is significant, the real value comes from learning from peers and interfacing with Airbus Global engineers.
  • [13:29] Application Process. The application process begins on the Local Motors website. Matt and Alex run through the deals for submitting an design idea. The application process closes on May 22. There will be three winners in several categories. After the competition, the hope is that the selected designs will enter a prototype development phase.
  • [16:57] The Designs. Although Matt and Alex cannot speak specifically on any of the designs, they have indicated that there are some very innovative designs and collaborations occurring on the discussion boards.
  • [17:39] Insights. Matt and Alex share some of their insights and perceptions of watching the co-creative process work. For each, the innovative collaborative nature of the challenge has been exciting and rewarding.
  • [19:50] Program Objectives. Matt and Alex share their hopes for there Challenge – namely, that the co-creative process can demonstrate a workable solution for speeding drone hardware solutions. They see the process being on par with Amazone delivery and Google Wing.
  • [21:03] The Winners. Matt and Alex run through the various opportunities for competitors to win prizes in the challenge.
  • [22:04] Social Media. Networking and Learning. The Local Motors website provides opportunities for participants to connect and dialogue with other competitors and Airbus engineers. The site features a strong forum and learning tools where participants and visitors can learn about designing drones.
  • [23:56] Intellectual Property. All designs submitted in the challenges fall under the Creative Commons rules for intellectual property. Matt runs through the details.
  • [25:24] Final Thoughts on the Challenge. Alex hopes for more creative ideas for the remainder of the Challenge, which Matt hopes to see some actual prototypes of the designs.
  • [26:14] Closing

Mentioned Links

Some of the designs submitted to the Airbus Global Cargo Challenge

Some of the designs submitted to the Airbus Global Cargo Challenge

The Local Motors Building

The Local Motors Building